Life is funny.
As I get older, I start to notice things differently. When you are a kid, or even a teenager, or even a so-called "adult" in college, you don't notice the little tricks that business owners do to fleece you from your money.
One example was a local Italian deli that I was at the other day (not Fiore's, who I love!). They were selling Boylan's soda, and I wanted to buy a orange seltzer that they had. They were making my sandwich, and I asked the cashier how much was the 12 ounce seltzer.
Two dollars. Fifty cents. For orange flavored seltzer water. Normally I don't care. But I started to think about it. I mean, really? It costs THAT much? I was expecting maybe $1.25, at the most. Frustrated, I put the water back into the fridge. It really wasn't the PRICE but to me it was just absurd they would charge that much for such a tiny drink. Instead I walked a few blocks on my way home with my hero, and stopped in a local bodega, bought a can plain seltzer (not Boylan's) for $.85 cents. I'll spend my $1.65 somewhere else.
I work out at the CrossFit. Often, I will grab a bottle of the 23 ounce Poland Spring sport bottle at a deli. They charge me $1.75 for a bottle. I don't really think about it until I looked at FreshDirect, and they charge $12.69 for 24 bottles: $.52 per bottle! I ordered two cases of those and keep them in my fridge. Insane in the membrane! Insane in the brain!
A third example:
Coffee. I drink coffee in the morning at work, and now that I embraced more Paleo-style eating, I drink it black. I used to HATE black coffee, until I realized that Dunkin Donuts coffee is woefully average. You don't realize this until you stop pouring cream and sugar all over it. Bottom line is that a cup of coffee now is $3.25 for a large cup at my local NYC Dunkin Donuts. Instead I started making my own coffee, with my french press, and even buying "cheap" Costa Rica or Puerto Rico coffee at $7 for a 1/2 pound. It's fantastic. I bring it to work in a 16 ounce Thermos. I can make about 15 thermoses of coffee, or 3 business weeks. If I bought Dunkin everyday - that's $45 bucks. My way? $7, plus whatever electric costs i'm paying to boil water.
This isn't some new concept. The idea that you can save money buying in bulk isn't something novel. But here's my "million dollar idea" that does with what I wrote.
Now there are other apps out there that allow you to scan barcodes & find the lowest price on the web. But think of it more like how FourSquare works. Lets say you go to a local deli, and know that cans of Coke are $.75 cents. You enter that into the FourSquare app. It uploads it. Everyone using FourSquare if they look for Coke, know that XYZ deli sells Coke at $.75 each. Now taking it further, imagine all the bodegas in town were linked that way, by manual entries by the users. Aside from the obvious ways it could be manipulated, you could have a map of where you can buy food or drinks.
Now I know some of you aren't going to walk 7 blocks to save $1. But, lets say next door to that Italian Deli uptown I knew there was a bodega which sold the same exact Boylan soda for $1.25. I think most people would do exactly the same thing as me. You could do the same for beer. Lets say you wanted to know the cheapest place in town to buy a 6-pack. Or maybe a bottle of Grey Goose. Most places I know (aside from specials) pretty much keep the same price of their liquor or beer.
A good example was Hoboken Vine versus [left blank on purpose]. I would go to LBOP to pick up a 6 pack of Corona. Cost? $12. Then one day i'm in Hoboken Vine, which is 2 blocks away from my house and Corona six pack was $9. Why would I ever go to LBOP again? Even other things at Hoboken Vine were cheaper, like Grey Goose or Ketel One.
At the end of the day, you just start to notice this. There has to be a way that social media needs to combine with SAP-style inventory. An easy way for consumers or business owners to scan inventory and let the world know. Stopping popular businesses to gouge the consumers because they either don't know (or don't care) about it. There has to be a better way.